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Subject to success

Never before has so much had to be done in so few words

An ideal subject line for your email campaign does 5 jobs in a very short space:

  1. Grab the recipient’s attention
  2. Show the main content is worth a read
  3. Be relevant to that content
  4. Demonstrate credibility and trustworthiness
  5. Help spam filters recognise the email as legitimate

That’s a lot to achieve in about half-a-dozen words, no more than 10. Here are some tips on how to go about writing subject lines:

Be concise – obvious I know, but there’s no room for clutter in your subject lines. You need a short and snappy title. Use simple Anglo-Saxon words, active voice, minimal punctuation and reduce prepositional phrases.

Be clear – again, use straightforword language, with simple Anglo-Saxon words and basic sentence structure. Avoid ambiguity or any chance of being misread.

Be focused – don’t try to do too much. If you’re having trouble crystallising the core message of your email into a single sentence… perhaps your campaign needs focus.

Make a point – people are busy, their inboxes are crowded. Your subject line needs to give them a reason to read your email.

Be inventive – inboxes are crowded and your subject lines need to grab attention. Be smart, be unique and think about what makes your recipients tick.

Be relevant – be inventive but make sure that it’s aligned with the actual content and objective of your email. You don’t want to jar your readers or make them feel misled.

Be accurate – typos, mis-spellings and sloppy grammar will immediately destroy your credibility and can make your email look like spam.

Personalise – tailor your subject line to specific segments of your audience and align it with what you know about them.

Create some urgency – time-limited offers can, if used sparingly and with care, lead to increased engagement. Just be very cautious around the wording and don’t bombard your audience with them.

Don’t be spammy – don’t SHOUT IN YOUR SUBJECT LINE with all caps, don’t over-do the high-pressure sell or use phrases like ‘click here’, ‘save money today’ or ‘buy now’.

A lot goes into a well-crafted subject line but they are crucial, especially on mobile devices where there isn’t a preview pane to see eye-grabbing headline images.

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